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    Interview of The Source with Vice President Leni Robredo (Part 2)

    The Source on CNN Philippines

    Host: Pinky Webb

    (Part 2: Friday, 02 March 2018)

    PINKY WEBB: Here on The Source, we are featuring women who have, or are dedicating their lives to public service. [Intro video plays]

    PINKY WEBB: Let’s go straight to the source of the story: Vice President Leni Robredo.

    Vice President, dati po, alam naman natin na nagbibigay ho kayo… ang balita, puro pro bono ang inyong ginagawa sa Naga. At ang kuwento po ng isang malapit sa inyo sa akin, noong nasa Naga po kayo, marami pong… may mga kababaihan na nagsusumbong…

    VP LENI: Marami. Hindi lang iyon. Parang… I was in charge kasi of the women’s sector sa SALIGAN (Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal), so parang natatakan ako na kapag may babaeng nabubugbog, sa akin lalapit, so parang iyong mga kapitan—iyong mga kapitan kasi usually, sila iyong nagre-rescue—iyong mga kapitan, kapag may na-rescue silang nabugbog, sa akin tatawag. And for a time, there was still no halfway house in Naga, iyong bahay nain iyong tirahan. In fact, marami nang beses na kaming mag-asawa, kami iyong magsusundo doon sa babae na nabugbog, papatirahin namin sa bahay for a while hanggang wala pa siyang relative—

    PINKY WEBB: Sa bahay niyo?

    VP LENI: Sa bahay namin. And maliit pa naman ang bahay namin kasi ano kami, apartment, pero mayroon kami, iyong isang kuwarto ng anak ko, iyon iyong tinitirhan nila for a while. Kasi eventually nagkaroon na ng halfway house.

    Pero iyong experience ko kasi, even if you give free legal services—and iyong legal services hindi lang iyong kaso, pero kasama na doon ikaw iyong magdadala sa ospital, ipapa-checkup mo sa medico legal, tatawagin mo iyong fiscal kasi kung criminal case dapat siya iyong kumuha ng… Parang it’s a very long process before you actually file a case.

    Pero iyong mga— Ang experience ko, at first, iyong mga kababaihan na nabugbog, galit na galit. “Talagang kakasuhan ko na. I’ve had enough.” Pero eventually, kapag may nag-file—ilang gabi mong pagpupuyatan iyong paggawa ng complaint—nasa court ka na, kapag nasa court ka na, hindi na siya… hindi ka na niya sisiputin. Many times that happened. Parati akong napapagalitan ng judge na, “Ikaw lang iyong desidido sa kaso.” Hindi na sila mag-a-appear.

    PINKY WEBB: Ngayon siguro hindi na kayo kayang pagalitan ni Judge.

    VP LENI: [laughs] Tapos ma-a-archive iyong kaso…

    Pero ang reason doon, most of the women that I’ve helped, they’re willing to go back to an abusive relationship, to mend fences with an abusive husband or an abusive partner, kasi they feel that they are dependent on them. Hindi sila makatayo sa sariling paa.

    So iyong sa amin… I became head of the Naga City Council of Women while I was in SALIGAN. Iniba namin iyong approach ng pagtulong. Kami iyong nagpe-prepare ng GAD (Gender and Development) budget because we were the point person for gender and development, ginamit namin iyong lahat [sa] economic empowerment. Kasi iyong babae, magkaroon lang siya ng hanapbuhay of her own—whether nag-e-empleyo siya, nagnenegosyo, service provider—nakakabigay siya ng confidence. And itong confidence na ito, ito iyong nagagamit niyang lakas para hindi na payagan that abuse… parang maging recipient siya ng abuse.

    Kaya ito… kahit ngayon, we have been helping a lot of women organizations. I think, as of the moment, we are helping 49 women organizations. These are indigent women all over the country. Mayroon kaming binilhan ng abaca stripper kasi minamano-mano noong mga babae. Mayroon kaming—sa Piagapo ito, very near Marawi—iyong Marawi Women Weavers, we bought them sewing machines and cloth para doon sa kanilang landap. Mayroon kaming mga tinutulungan sa Hinoba-an, Hinoba-an in Negros Oriental [Occidental], nagbigay kami ng digital printing machine kasi iyon iyong click doon sa tao. Binigyan namin iyong women organization. Iyong mga ganoon.

    Halimbawa, in Sumilao in Bukidnon, we brought our partner, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, they conducted agri-biosystems training for the women farmers. Alam mo iyon… just… iyong economic independence gives women power.

    PINKY WEBB: All right, we’ll be taking a short break. The Source will be right back with Vice President Leni Robredo. [break]

    PINKY WEBB: This is The Source on CNN Philippines. Still with us, Vice President Leni Robredo. A number of other issues we need to discuss, Vice President. Cha-Cha, Charter Change: what’s your basic insight or feeling on this? Kailangan ho ba?

    VP LENI: Iyong sa akin, hindi pa kasi nasasagot iyong, I think, the most basic question: Bakit natin kailangan? Hindi pa iyon nasasagot. Halimbawa nasagot, sabihin natin kailangan talaga, anong manner ng… anong manner ng pagpalit?

    Parang… Iyong Constitution is the basic framework of our government. It’s no something that we can rush. Hindi ito puwedeng daanin sa… parang ano lang, sa political might. Iyong… kung mayroong kailangang i-amend sa Constitution, ang unang… ang unang tanong: Hindi ba kayang iyong batas iyong i-amend?

    Halimbawa, one of the things that is being raised on why we need to change to a federal form of government is masyadong Manila-centric, dapat palakasin iyong mga local government units. Ako, agree ako. Agree ako. Pero iyong next question: Constitutional amendment ba iyong kailangan? Hindi ba ito kaya na amendment sa Local Government Code? Kasi ano… sa akin, especially at a time like this, parang mahirap—mahirap magkaroon ng… ng amendments to the Constitution. Kanino ba natin ititiwala iyong amendments?

    PINKY WEBB: Can you qualify that, “especially at a time like this”?

    VP LENI: Na very divided tayo. Very divided tayo as a nation. Iyong Constitution, kailangan nag-a-agree tayo, kaya nga siya sinu-submit siya to a plebiscite, ‘di ba? Kailangan nag-a-agree tayo sa pagpalit.

    Ako nga, sinasabi ko, sabihin pa natin… sabihin pa natin na kailangang iyong… kailangan talagang mag-amend ng certain provisions of the Constitution, sabihin pa natin na nag-agree na tayo sa proseso. Ako, iyong proposal ko diyan, bakit hindi natin gawin iyong ginagawa sa ibang bansa? Halimbawa, sa US, hindi binubuksan iyong Constitution, gumagawa na lang ng amendment. ‘Di ba sa US, mayroong First Amendment, Second Amendment. Ako, ang proposal ko, mas ganoon, kasi maraming mahahalagang prinsipyo saka values sa ating present Constitution na kapag binuksan siya, natatakot akong mawala iyon.

    PINKY WEBB: Are you quite satisfied?—ako po, iyon ang pakiramdam ko with the 1987 Constitution.

    VP LENI: Ako, hindi siya perfect. Pero maraming… maraming nakalagay sa kaniya na wala sa Constitution ng ibang bansa. Iyong values natin as a Filipino people. Natatakot ako na iyong mga provisions ng human rights, ma-dilute. Natatakot ako na—alam mo iyon?—iyong provision tungkol sa political dynasty mawala.

    PINKY WEBB: Mayroon naman po pero hindi natutuloy…

    VP LENI: Sa akin nga… sa akin nga, sabi ko, bago mag-usap tungkol sa federalism, asikasuhin muna iyong political dynasties, kasi ano iyon, basic, in the sense na the 1987 Constitution requires that, iyong Anti-Political Dynasty Law. Pero hindi pa naipapasa. Hindi pa iyon napapasa, pero papalitan na iyong Constitution. Parang sa akin, maraming… mas maraming danger na ipo-pose kaysa sa kabutihan na magagawa.

    PINKY WEBB: So definitely, Vice President, ngayon wala pa po kayo sa federalism? It’s not something that you agree with, because you are looking at certain provisions sa Constitution na dapat i-improve?

    VP LENI: Iyong sa akin, kailangan munang asikasuhin iyong mga hindi pa naaasikaso, particularly iyong Anti-Political Dynasty provision, kasi you can just imagine, kapag hindi nagpasa ng ganoon tapos nagkaroon tayo ng federal states, parang pinapalakas pa natin iyong—

    PINKY WEBB: Political clans…

    VP LENI: —baka maging parang fiefdom siya. Kapag tiningnan natin ngayon, after the 2016 elections, lalong nag-increase iyong governors, mayors, congressmen na galing sa political dynasties. Kapag nagkaroon ng federalism, ‘di ba, paano iyon?

    PINKY WEBB: How do you react to some people who would say na ayaw mo lang dahil baka ma-dissolve ang Office of the Vice President?

    VP LENI: Ako, tingin ko kasi, side issue iyon. Hindi iyon iyong mahalaga. Ang mahalaga, ano ba iyong makakabuti sa atin? Kasi okay lang naman ma-dissolve iyong opisina kung kinakailangan. Kasi ang nakakatakot doon…

    Mas nakakatakot, I think iyong proposal na i-dissolve iyong Ombudsman, Office of the Ombudsman, kasi kung wala na iyong Office of the Ombudsman, wala nang independent body, wala nang independent body na, ‘di ba, magha-handle ng mga cases of corruption, cases of abuses by public officials. Tingin ko mas ano iyon, mas mahalaga.

    Kasi iyong Office of the Vice President, kahit pa hindi iyon ma-dissolve, after six years wala na ako dito. Pero iyong Konstitusyon nandiyan hanggang wala na tayo, ‘di ba?

    PINKY WEBB: After six years ho ba, talagang wala na ho kayo?

    VP LENI: Tapos na ako maging Vice President.

    PINKY WEBB: Opo… I mean, would you even aspire after… iyong ngayon po, the present situation you are in right now, would you still want to be in politics? Would you still be open to it?

    VP LENI: Ayoko nang magsalita nang tapos kasi kinain ko na iyong sinabi ko—twice. When I was being asked to run in 2013, sabi ko “over my dead body,” pero I ran. Noong tinutulak ako for the vice presidency, sinasabi ko I will not do it, kasi ang choices ko lang noon whether to retire—kasi iyon naman iyong plano: one term lang, transition candidate lang ako—or whether to seek reelection as representative of the third district of Camarines Sur.

    Kaya ngayon, kahit sa isip ko—especially after the elections of 2016—it was a very difficult campaign. Talagang namamalimos ka kasi wala kang pera. Alam mo iyon? You had to go around the country, which I enioyed, pero parang sa akin… parang I was not trained for it. After the campaign, sabi ko never ko na itong gagawin, pero again kapag tinapon sa iyo ng tadhana, parang nangyayari talaga.

    PINKY WEBB: Iyon nga po iyong gusto kong tanungin sa inyo: Kapag binalikan po iyong inyong buhay, you were obviously… I don’t know if there’s a better term for reluctant candidate, pero napunta po kayo sa mga posisyon na sinasabi niyo ayaw niyong mapunta. Do you feel that this is a calling or this is a purpose? When you look back at your life and where you are now, how do you see it unfolding?

    VP LENI: Ako, ano… para sa akin, hindi ganiyan. Parang, you know, there are people that when you look back, sasabihin na he was really being trained for this one. Iyong akin, hindi. Iyong sa akin, I was just a wife, I was a mother, I was a human rights lawyer, and I was happy with it. Pero iyong sa akin kasi, iyong turning point, when my husband died suddenly. Parang ang feeling ko lang, I am continuing what he was supposed to do—not as Vice President, but as a public servant. Parang iyong asawa ko talaga was the one who was talagang suited for a life like this. Eh bigla siyang nawala. So sa akin, mas tinitingnan ko siya na ginagawa ko lang iyong dapat niyang gawin. Mas ganoon.

    PINKY WEBB: Do you often still talk to him?

    VP LENI: All the time. At pakiramdam ko hindi niya kami iniiwan. You know, there are so many things that I do not know, pero bigla na lang I respond to it in a way na iyong asawa ko iyong… nandiyan. Lalo na ngayon. After I won, I was faced with so many challenges. Siguro kung iyong dating ako, sasabihin ko bahala kayo diyan, aayaw na ako. Pero the way that I responded to these challenges, parang asawa ko iyon. Kaya parang pakiramdam ko—may term iyong mga anak ko diyan, parang sinasabi nila, “Si Mama, may sanib.”

    PINKY WEBB: [laughs] Sanib ng daddy?

    VP LENI: Oo, sanib ng asawa ko. Parang ang feeling nila, ayon. And I feel like, iyon nga, I’m just continuing what he was supposed to do.

    PINKY WEBB: Are you at all threatened, or do you see this protest of former senator Bongbong Marcos as a threat to your vice presidency?

    VP LENI: Not really. I know for a fact that he does not… you know… he does not have evidence to prove election cheating, because there was none. We’re not allowed to talk about it anymore, the Supreme Court issued a gag order, and he’s… you know. I think he has been spending a lot on social media to vilify me.

    Pero sa akin naman, at the end of the day, evil will never triumph. Maraming naniniwala din sa kaniya, pero iyong sa akin, I’m not really concerned in the sense na dadating din iyong panahon na iyong katotohanan iyong lalabas.

    PINKY WEBB: We’ll be taking a short break. The Source will be right back with Vice President Leni Robredo. [break]

    PINKY WEBB: This is The Source on CNN Philippines. Still with us, Vice President Leni Robredo.

    You talked about social media, bashers. Binabasa niyo pa ho ba iyon? Affected ho ba kayo diyan?

    VP LENI: Binabasa ko and source siya ng katuwaan.

    PINKY WEBB: [laughs]

    VP LENI: Source siya ng katuwaan—

    PINKY WEBB: Hindi kayo nasasaktan sa mga—

    VP LENI: Kasi hindi naman totoo. Wala namang totoo doon. Halimbawa, they called me—

    PINKY WEBB: What’s the worst thing? You think?

    VP LENI: Iyong [sa] mga anak ko. Kapag iyong mga anak ko… Halimbawa, one Christmas, iyong daughter ko—my youngest daughter—was bashed. She was bashed by a mother. And she did not deserve it. Iyon talaga nagagalit ako. Kapag ginagawan ng kuwento iyong namatay ko nang asawa na hindi naman totoo, nagagalit ako. Pero iyong sa akin, wala pang sinabi, wala pang bash na hindi totoo.

    I think that’s the one thing that saves me from all the heartaches. When you say things that are not true, you don’t get affected. Parang maaapektuhan ka lang kapag hindi ikaw, or maaapektuhan ka kapag siguro totoo iyong sinasabi.

    Pero ano, nakakatuwa siya. Nakakatuwa. Nape-predict na namin, mayroon siyang theme, kaya halata na… halata na it’s a well-oiled machinery. Kapag tiningnan mo iyong mga bash sa akin, pare-pareho sila. They say it differently, but they say the same things. This week, iba. Next week, iba naman iyong theme. Parang may nagfi-feed. Kung anu-ano lang. Parang excited nga ako. Excited ako parating tingnan what’s next kasi very ridiculous lahat.

    PINKY WEBB: Baka mas maengganyo pa iyong mga bashers ninyo, Ma’am, because of what you said na to continue on criticizing you.

    VP LENI: Ano siya… funny siya. Ano siya, hindi siya nakakapikon. Funny. I don’t—hindi ko naman pinapatulan. Binabasa ko pero never akong pumatol. Never akong sumagot. Never ako nagdepensa sa sarili.

    PINKY WEBB: Just on a final stretch, Vice President. Na-mention niyo po kanina, when you look at it: Vice President Leni Robredo, si Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, si Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, at si Senator—well, kayong tatlo po muna, mayroon pong nagreklamo sa inyo for impeachment. Si Senator Leila de Lima po, nakakulong na ngayon. How do you see that unfold? Iyong kayong apat na babae—and I know what you said a while ago, you’re critics, or kayo po iyong nagsasalita against the administration or maybe some of its policies.

    VP LENI: It’s unfortunate. Pero actually, ano siya, parang microcosm siya ng mga kababaihan in general. Kahit iyong mga kababaihan na wala in leadership positions, mas vulnerable talaga. Mas vulnerable siya. Nakikita naman natin na kapag babae ka, anything is thrown at you. Parang you are subjected to higher standards—not just of morality, but of service, of everything. And I think, to a certain extent, that is also… parang… that is also an advantage, in the sense that you are always aware. Because you are a woman, you are subjected to higher standards. Because you are a woman, mas marami iyong… alam mo iyon? Mas marami talaga iyong mali na puwedeng ibato sa iyo. Hindi lang iyon sa amin; kahit sa ordinaryong kababaihan na naiiwan sa bahay.

    Kapag kinumpara mo kung paano i-treat ng tao iyong asawang babae saka asawang lalaki—na ordinaryo, wala sa pulitika, wala sa lahat—mas lugi parati iyong babae. Hindi ko sinasabing all the time, pero most of the time ganoon. Iyong expectations sa babae, sa asawang babae, mas mataas kaysa sa expectations sa asawang lalaki. Iyong society is always more forgiving of men than of women.

    Kaya hindi ito naiiba. Siguro mas malaki lang sa amin kasi kilala kami, pero ano siya… siya iyong katotohanan sa bawat babae, na kailangang ma-break.

    Patuloy tayong nag-e-exert ng effort to break this, alam mo iyon, inequality. We have achieved so many… parang we have achieved so much already in terms of trying to uplift the status of women, but there is much to be desired.

    PINKY WEBB: As a last question: How would you describe the Filipina today?

    VP LENI: Ako, iyong Filipina today is more passionate, more committed, more dedicated, and more confident of herself. Before, iyong mga Filipina are expected to be quited, ‘di ba? Are expected to just be the support of men. Pero now, it’s not like that anymore—there are so many Filipinas occupying leadership positions already, and hindi lang mga pulitiko. You know, when Pantawid Pamilya [Program] was launched, iyong mga parent leaders na mga kababaihan, very vocal already. Very confident. Iyon nga, very committed, very passionate. It gives us great joy when we go to communities na ano na…

    You know, I think it’s very important na confident iyong babae, kasi kapag confident iyong babae, naipapaglaban niya iyong kaniyang mga karapatan. And we need to train more women to be like that. It gives them power, it gives them strength.

    PINKY WEBB: And isang pahabol lang: As Leni Robredo, what can you improve in yourself—as a woman, as a Filipina?

    VP LENI: Marami pa. Marami akong pagkukulang.

    Ako siguro, Leni Robredo as Vice President. Kasi parang all my life, I was living in the shadow of my husband, so kahit Vice President na ako, marami akong pag-hold back. Iyong sometimes I do not understand the power of the position—power in the sense that siguro if I am more aggressive, I would be able to help people more. Pero medyo mahiyain ako. Sabi ko nga, iyong paghingi ng tulong para sa communities, nahihiya ako noon. Pero I think if I am more confident also of my position as Vice President, I would be able to make a bigger difference. It’s something that I have to work on. Parang masyado pang provincial iyong aking… masyado pang provincial iyong aking attitude, masyadong… parang… iyong parang ano, parang I have been so used to being just the support of my husband, kaya maraming pag-hold back.

    Iyong Leni Robredo as a mother naman, I’ve been having a hard time parang balancing my time with the children. I have also been so used to being tutok to them—iyong tutok na tutok ako sa kanila. Tiger mom ako. And now, iyong guilt feelings. Parang… kapag magpoprobinsya, ang parati kong request sa staff, puwede bang one night lang tayo? Kung kayang balikan, balikan. Kahit gigising ka ng sobrang aga, uuwi ka ng gabi, basta tutulog ako sa bahay. Pero guilty pa din ako. Alam mo iyon? Parang nahihirapan akong mag-detach sa dati kong buhay. Kahit kaya na noong mga anak ko, gusto ko ako pa din iyong gagawa. Iyon iyong mga adjustments na kailangang gawin.

    PINKY WEBB: Maybe because mag-isa na din po kayo.

    VP LENI: Oo. Mahirap maging single parent. Mayroon kang obligasyon, pero iyong anak mo kailangan ka. And my daughter was saying, “Mama, ano naman, okay naman na hindi ka—” Buti nag-volunteer iyong ate niya na siya ang sasama.

    Mahirap to be a single parent. Mahirap to be a working mother. Mahirap iyong pag-balance ng time. Pero ganoon, eh.

    PINKY WEBB: Two years, Vice President, you still have four more years. We wish you all the luck.

    VP LENI: Thank you.

    PINKY WEBB: And thank you for your time, for giving us so much of your time.

    VP LENI: Thank you, Pinky.

    PINKY WEBB: And Happy Women’s Month!

    VP LENI: Thank you. You, too! Happy Women’s Month!

    PINKY WEBB: And thank you for joining us here on The Source. I’m Pinky Webb.

    You’re watching CNN Philippines.

    Posted in Transcripts on Mar 01, 2018